Last modified: 2013-04-11 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: royal new zealand air force | nz | kiwi |
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1:2 image by Dean Thomas, 5 March 2004
At air bases and public occasions, the Royal New Zealand Air Force flies a
flag identical to the British Royal Air Force, a light
blue ensign with a roundel of dark blue, white, and red concentric rings, from
outside to inside, except that the R.N.Z.A.F. flag has the letters "NZ"
in white on the innermost red disk. The roundel
used on the aircraft themselves, however, replaces this innermost red disk with
a red silhouette of a kiwi, the New Zealand national symbol, and omits the lettering.
When entire flags are used on aircraft, usually in paint, the
usual national flag is used.
Stuart Park, 18 December 1995, and Chris Griggs, 4 February 1999
The British, and probably therefore the New Zealand, air force ensigns have
incorrect roundels. The roundel is 5/7ths of the fly width, with the rings having
the following diameters: red 1/7th of fly, white 3/7ths of fly, blue
5/7ths of fly. The Canadian ensign also matches these specs, but has a Canadian
national flag in the canton and a standard Canadian maple leaf where the red
Graham Bartram, 19 September 1999
The roundel on the RAF Ensign is in the centre of the fly, and its diameter
is 11/12ths of the width of the flag. The diameter of the central red disc is
1/5th of the diameter of the roundel, and the width of the blue ring and of
the white ring is, in each case, 1/5th of the diameter of the roundel. (From
ADM 1/12493 in the Public Record Office.)
The roundel used on RNZAF aircraft has been changed four times. Until 1942 it was the same as the RAF roundel. Between 1942 and 1945 it was mainly blue/white/ blue, sometimes with white side-bands outlined in blue. In 1946 it reverted to the RAF type, but didn't change in 1947 when the red disc on the RAF roundel was enlarged. In 1960 a silver fern leaf was added to the red disc. I don't know when this was replaced by the red kiwi. Presumably later than 1967 since it is not shown in Bruce Robertson's, Aircraft Markings of the World 1912-1967 [rob67].
David Prothero, May 1999
In 1957 a scpecific New Zealand marking was devised, a white fern placed on
the central red of the roundel. Because of remarks that this looked like a white
feather it was soon changed to silver, but on aluminium aircraft this looked
like worn paint. From 10 October 1970 the central red spot was replaced by a
red kiwi. Recent low-visibility markings consist of simply a red kiwi on a blue
Mark Sensen, 1 May 1999, quoting from [cos98]
The image of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign [shown above] is not quite
the same as the drawing of the flag that was submitted for approval in August
1939. There is a square full stop (period), as wide as the strokes of the letters,
after the N and after the Z. The letters are still as large as possible within
the red roundel and thus elongated and noticeably taller than they are wide.
In the application the flag is described as, "the Ensign of the Royal Air
Force defaced by
the addition of the letters N Z superimposed in white upon the red roundel of the ensign." [PRO document AIR 30/140]
David Prothero, 22 February 2001
image located by Herman FMY, using components from images by Martin Grieve, Joe McMillan and Graeme Bartram, 20 February 2007
In an article published at the New Zealand Defence Force website on 25th August 2004, it was mentioned that the RNZAF will be receiving a new Queen's Colour on the 31st of the same month. The article highlights that it is the third Queen's Colour in RNZAF's history, the first being presented on 28th December 1953, during HM Queen Elizabeth II's visit to New Zealand.
No photograph or picture of the Colour is available but the article did give mention of its design at the end which reads,
"The Queen's Colour is of RAF blue; it has a border in a motif of fern leaves, a fringe, cord and tassels of mixed red and gold silk. It bears the Royal Cypher surmounted by the St. Edward crown in the centre, in the canton the Union and in the second quarter the four main stars of the Southern Cross in gold. The staff is 2.45 metres (8 feet 1 inch) in length surmounted by a crown and lion."
There isn't the mention of the NZ roundel on the Colour.
Comparatively, I recall that the Royal Australian Air Force also once
used a roundel-less Queen's Colour in its history.
Herman FMY, 10 May 2005
The fern leaf embroidery on the border can be seen in greater detail
a Ministry for Culture and Heritage photograph from the New Zealand Memorial in London
Herman FMY, 20 February 2007
Photographs suggest that the
RNZAF Squadron Standard is not much different from that of the
British Royal Air Force's. (see:
It has light blue field with the squadron emblem at the centre.
Scrolls bearing battle honours are embroidered around the emblem. The
standard has blue & gold fringes, cords & tassels and is attached to
a staff with a gilt eagle as the finial. The border of the RNZAF
Squadron Standard is embroidered with gold fern leaves I believe. The
use of gold fern leaves departs from the practice of using British
wreath; roses, thistles, leeks & shamrocks [see here] and the Australian version
which includes wattle leaves as is apparent in their Squadron Standards.
Herman FMY, 11 May 2005
both images by Sam Lockton, 3 October 2002
Depiction with left-facing kiwi
image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 March 2009
In this depction, the kiwi is facing the left side (visible) and has bowed down its head.
Source: David DONALD: Taschenhandbuch der Militärflugzeuge; ISBN: 3-89880-122-5; p.177
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 March 2009